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Control of the Eastern Conference finals is up for grabs in Game 2 at BLF on Tuesday. The Pacers expect a more physical and aggressive effort from the Heat. Can the Pacers rise to the challenge and put themselves in position to take the next step?
A Game 2 win over the Heat with three days off before resuming play in Miami sounds good, no? Also sounds too good to be true. The off-day Pacers repeated a theme of expecting nothing but a champions effort from the Heat in Game 2.
At times in Game 1, it appeared the Heat were experimenting, trying to find an edge for later on while trying to figure out which Pacers team they were up against. Welp, they found out quick the full-throttle, A-game Pacers were back in play. Assuming that same Pacers continues playing at a high level in the playoffs, it becomes a battle of will between differing styles trying to impose their will on one another. The more aggressive team will always have an advantage.
So expect a far more engaged and aggressive LeBron and company at the Fieldhouse trying to make the Pacers blink and give up home court advantage. It appeared in Game 1, Miami was willing to create matchups that favored Lance Stephenson, essentially putting the ball in his hands to make plays and decisions. The idea being, eventually Lance will get on the wrong side of control and disrupt things for the Pacers while giving the Heat a chance to seize on the mistakes. This was also a byproduct of the Heat utilizing small lineups.
Lance was up for the challenge in Game 1 with 17 pionts, 8 assists and only 2 turnovers. The Heat may go bigger, try to apply more pressure on the ball and bring their own style of trying to muck up the Pacers offense. There was very little of that from Miami in Game 1.
For the Pacers, it still comes down to Roy Hibbert and David West remaining stout in the post at both ends and staying out of foul trouble. The Heat will try to change the game and get their Big 3 going in a comfort zone, but they still don't have an answer for the Pacers' size inside. This is no time for Hibbert to shrink to the challenge and make minimal impact. Only with a big game from the bigs will the Pacers have a chance to win in Game 2.
Despite all of the good things that happened in Game 1, the winner on Tuesday night will have control of the series.
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